Daily News Kings’ 8-game home winning streak ends with potentially costly loss to Wild

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Kings interim coach Jim Hiller said after clinching a spot in the postseason that his team was still very much in a playoff race.

On Monday night the Kings missed the starter’s pistol as the Minnesota Wild blew past them, 3-1, at Crypto.com Arena, snapping their eight-game home winning streak.

Monday’s loss put the Kings in peril of dropping from third in the Pacific Division to the second wild-card position, which would pit them against the vaunted Dallas Stars. The Kings are just one point ahead of the fourth-place Vegas Golden Knights, who also have a game in hand on them. The Kings will welcome Chicago on Thursday night for their season finale. The lowly Blackhawks will have played Tuesday in Vegas, where the Golden Knights will conclude their campaign against the Ducks on Thursday.

Blake Lizotte scored the Kings’ only goal. Captain Anze Kopitar returned to action, relegating Pierre-Luc Dubois to the fourth line once more. Cam Talbot made 26 saves.

Minnesota’s leading scorer, Kirill Kaprizov, eclipsed a point-per-game average in his 16 career contests against the Kings by scoring a goal and setting up another for Ryan Hartman. Marco Rossi added two assists, including one for Matt Boldy to open the scoring before Filip Gustavsson shut the door with 23 saves.

With 5:24 remaining in the match, Lizotte snapped a shot through traffic off the rush to break up what would have been Gustavsson’s fourth shutout of the season.

Kaprizov had already given the Kings a cheeky grin and a certain loss after he made it 3-0 by banking the puck off Talbot’s back and into the net with 11:35 to play.

Just like the opening 20 minutes, the second period saw the Kings grazed by one bullet and hit squarely by another, with the 2-0 count marking the 11th time this season that Kings were being shut out through two stanzas. They moved to 2-9 in that situation.

Kaprizov battled Phillip Danault and Matt Roy for a point-blank push toward an open net that inexplicably stayed out of the twine. Later, Kaprizov would put more oomph into a hit than he was able to into that shot when he blasted former Wild winger Kevin Fiala with a hip check during a rush in the third period.

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Before that, Kaprizov finally gave the Wild that elusive two-goal lead when he connected with Hartman a mere 4.7 seconds before the second intermission. Joel Eriksson Ek stripped Kopitar at the blue line, sending Kaprizov and Hartman ahead on a two-on-one break. Kaprizov cut inside on Mikey Anderson as he lofted a saucer pass across to Hartman, who waited out Talbot momentarily before hoisting the puck over the goalie’s drooping glove.

Late in the first period, Minnesota defenseman Alex Goligoski nearly scored his first goal since March 15 of last year when he got a breakaway after exiting the penalty box. In a hairy sequence for the Kings, Talbot dashed out of his crease to challenge, only to miss on a poke check attempt and be evaded by Goligoski, who then had an open net in his sights. Jordan Spence managed to force him to circle the net, where his the stick of Trevor Moore narrowly averted a goal.

That goal would have made it 2-0 after Boldy’s power-play goal. Former Kings prospect Brock Faber ignited the play by beating Moore one-on-one to get the Kings on their heels. Another rookie standout, Rossi, received the puck and found Boldy, who hit the offensive blue line with speed. He slipped the puck under Roy’s stick and then through Talbot’s legs to give the Wild a 1-0 lead with 5:46 on the clock.

More to come on this story.

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